It is estimated that at least one half of all Americans try and dial down that pesky number that shows up on the scale every year. And if you are reading this right now, there's a pretty good chance that you're in the market for a new, blood-pumping workout to help lose weight.
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Whether you're looking to lose a lot of weight or just to trim down a bit, exercise is an important component of any weight loss plan. Not all workouts are created equal when it comes to burning off those extra calories. While there is no real, one size fits all answer to what exercise is the best to lose weight, there are certain exercises and movements that are much more efficient at achieving your goal than others. Even the time of exercise does matter as well. The great part is that they are not that complicated at all to do!
But before we dive into some of our favorites, let's set some things straight first. The thing is, working out is not enough on its own for you to hit your weight loss goals. Don’t take this the wrong way, a solid workout regimen should be a part of your plan, it just can’t be the entirety of your plan. Here are a few important facts to note before you start on your weight loss journey:
Weight Loss and Fat Loss are Different from One Another
Everybody says they want to lose weight, but when they hit the gym their weight stays the same! How can that be? They’ve been progressing well, lifting heavier, wearing workout clothes, and been going consistently. This is because weight loss and fat loss are not one and the same. In this situation, you may have burned fat, but kept the weight in the form of new muscle. While this is not a bad situation, it may demoralize some when the scale doesn't display what they want to see.
So when many people say they want to lose weight, what they really mean is they want to lose fat. This is important to note because some workouts will cause muscle growth which will turn into weight gain. Fear not, this will actually aid your purpose in the long run as adding muscle mass to your body will stimulate your metabolism. This will help you lose fat and better help you keep it off for the future.
Exercise is Not the Only Factor in Place
Like briefly mentioned before, exercise on its own is not enough if you want to make serious strides toward your goal. There is so much more that factors into these bodily processes that you need to consider. In fact, exercise technically is not even necessary in some cases. If you really want to see progress in your fat loss, creating healthy eating habits has to be a priority. In technical terms, fat loss is ultimately determined by whether or not you are eating at a caloric deficit. This basically means you are burning more calories than you are eating. While this is true we strongly recommend supplementing this with a strong and robust exercise regimen to reach maximum fat loss efficiency.
There are also other factors that can contribute to fat loss, albeit less significantly so. These are other lifestyle habits such as sleep, stress management, or other health conditions. The point is their many factors into your journey into fat loss and that it can be complicated and unique to each individual.
Consistency is Key
Even the best workouts lose their benefit if you are only able to do them once every couple of weeks. This is not the way to get results. While there are forms of exercises that are more effective at burning calories than others, the truth is the best workout for fat loss is the workout that you are able to do consistently. This may be different depending on the individual as everyone’s situation will vary in some way.
We recommend working out at least 3 times a week. The goal here is to get into the healthy habit of exercising consistently. Remember it is better to do an exercise you enjoy regularly, even if it isn't the most efficient way to reach your goal.
Now that we have set the expectations a little bit, let's get to the reason you are here - the workouts. The following exercises that we have included are sure to help burn those fat stores away. These can be adjusted and scaled to fit near any ability and fitness level, but be sure to make each one hard enough to challenge you.
A fantastic training method that trainers love to turn to for fat loss is interval training, or more commonly known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This broad term refers to any form of exercise done in intense, short bursts that alternate with recovery periods. You really want your heart rate to spike when exercising, resting until it recovers, and then doing it over again. That rest or active recovery portion of the workout is key.
A typical HIIT session will last you about 10-30 minutes and can burn a respectable amount of calories. Studies have shown that interval training burned 25-30% more calories per minute than other types of exercises.
This means HIIT is a good go-to for shredding those fat stores. The best part is, it doesn't take a lot of time! It is one of the most efficient workouts you can do, burning the most amount of calories while spending less time working out.
Here’s how to do it: Pick an exercise or a set of exercises that will take you around 30 seconds to complete. Every minute on the minute, complete your exercises, then rest until the next minute starts. The faster you finish your exercise, the higher the intensity you workout - and the more time you get to rest.
Swimming is a great, low impact workout that you can do to burn some calories, especially if you don’t like giving your joints a pounding.
This is a nice alternative workout for people that find other forms of cardio too harsh or unpleasant. The great part about swimming is that it also hits all your major muscle groups.
The way you swim also affects the number of calories you burn. The butterfly will typically burn the most calories, with breaststroke and treading water following it, and backstroke burning the least calories. Try out different swimming techniques and find the one you enjoy best.
This one is a nice throwback to your elementary days. Oh, what we’d give to have the endless energy of a kid again. This one requires a piece of equipment, but the good thing is it’s cheap and easy to bring wherever you like. It really can be done almost anywhere as well.
Jump Roping can burn anywhere from 600-800 calories an hour when following a good plan. You obviously won’t be jumping the entire 60 minutes, but this is a fun and accessible way to get your heart rate up. You can combine this with other exercises as well to get a well-balanced circuit.
The infamous workout. Running is one of the most popular and easiest ways to get your exercise. All you need is a pair of good sneakers before you head off on your run. Both running and jogging are great exercises that can be done anywhere and are very easy to incorporate into your routine. Provided that you are not overcompensating for the calories burned when you refuel, jogging and running can be effective workouts for weight loss.
If you’re just starting out, aim to jog for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week. If you want more of a challenge or just want to switch things up, find some type of incline such as a hill to sprint up. Running up an incline will work your glutes and your legs significantly more which will require more energy expenditure.
If you find jogging or running to be uncomfortable for your joints, try running on softer surfaces like grass. Treadmills are also built to have some cushioning as well. But make sure to wear a workout tracksuit before starting running.
At its core, boxing is really another form of interval training with the added bonus of feeling super cool while doing it. It’s best to start this one in a proper class with a trainer as it is crucial to learn proper punching form early on. If you’ve ever tried it before, you should know boxing can be one of the sweatiest, most intense workouts which are perfect for our purposes.
While it may not seem like it at first, weight lifting - specifically heavy weight lifting, is a great way to burn some fat. Lifting weight is proven to increase your resting metabolic rate, which means your body will help keep the calories off even when you’re not working out.
Weight training, whether its bodyweight alone or with added weights, can also help you build strength and promote muscle growth. More muscle means you can go even harder the next time, lifting heavier and getting even more out of each workout. Pair heavy lifting with a caloric deficit and it's a sure recipe for success. Rest days are important too after intense workouts.
Ok we know what you're thinking and no yoga isn’t commonly thought of as a weight-loss exercise and you’re right. But yoga does offer many additional health benefits that can promote weight loss while burning a fair amount of calories to boot!
Practicing yoga regularly keeps your body flexible and healthy in order for your other, more intense workouts. It also requires lots of balance and stability which we can all use a little bit of in our lives. Aside from the physical benefits, yoga also promotes mindfulness, which can aid you in your weight-loss strategy outside the gym such as bad eating habits, overeating, and unhealthy cravings.